Veronica Gritsenko is SOIL’s long term collaborator and mentor. Gritsenko first came across Myanmar culture when she met a Buddhist monk in London in 1995. She then visited Myanmar with him in 1996 and fell in love with this wonderful and beautiful country.
Gritsenko completed her studies in Asian Arts at Sotheby’s Institute and the (School of Oriental and African Studies) University of London in 1999. She went to Bagan, Myanmar, for her dissertation on the ancient temple and its architectural symbolism. At the same time, she also came across the traditional lacquer arts. When she first engaged with the Burmese lacquerware, she felt marvel and disheartened that the beautiful and traditional art form was in decline, as most of it being mass produce for the tourist market. In 2000, Gritsenko founded the Black Elephant Studio lacquer workshop in Bagan. Eventually, she developed her unique technique based on traditional methods and materials such as bamboo; and created original designs and innovative decorative methods.
Gritsenko had been invited to give lectures at the British Museum, Asia House in London and Asia Society in New York, USA, and participated in conferences and exhibitions. In 2007, Gritsenko established an institute to help preserve traditional Myanmar lacquer art for the future generation. Her works were acquired by the British Museum, Victoria Albert Museum, Royal Botanic Gardens Museum and Turquoise Mountain in the UK, and the Museum of Oriental Art in Turin, Italy.